How to Get an Instant Auto Loan
Buying a new car is exciting, but there’s nothing worse than being stuck at the dealership for hours. Although there are tires to kick, prices to negotiate and mountains of paperwork to sign, getting an auto loan doesn’t have to take your entire weekend.
Instant auto loans expedite the auto financing process, which can take hours or even days. Here’s how to get a hassle-free instant auto loan.
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What is a same-day or instant auto loan?
A same-day or instant auto loan is a loan that can be approved in less than an hour, as long as you meet certain criteria. Vehicle financing companies that offer instant loans have their own requirements and interest rates, so it’s important to shop around before accepting a loan.
You can find instant auto loans through brick-and-mortar banks, credit unions and online lenders. Bank of America and US Bank are two national banks that offer instant auto loans. Navy Federal Credit Union also advertises that its instant car loan decisions are made in five minutes or less, though you’ll need to have military affiliation in order to qualify for credit union membership.
If you bank at a credit union or spot low rates on an online auto loan, you can also ask whether same-day auto loans are available.
Pros and cons of instant auto loans
As with all financial products, instant auto loans come with several benefits and drawbacks.
Negotiating power: If you get an instant auto loan, you may have more leverage to negotiate better rates with the dealer’s preferred lenders. Since you’ll know the interest rate you qualify for, it’ll be easier to determine whether the dealer is offering you an unnecessarily high APR.
Saving time: By getting an instant auto loan, you can shorten the auto financing process and drive away in your new (or used) car more quickly.
Avoid upsells: An instant auto loan can help you determine what you can comfortably afford before going to the dealership, reducing the risk of the dealer upselling you a more expensive vehicle or loan.
Confidence: Before heading to the dealership, you’ll know that you’re already preapproved for a car loan. This can help boost confidence during the car-buying process.
Can be difficult to obtain with bad credit: If you have a rocky credit history, an instant auto loan may be more challenging to get. You might need to provide more documentation than a good-credit applicant, potentially slowing down the process.
Some instant loans are scams: Some companies that claim to offer instant car loans are actually fraudulent. Verify the legitimacy of a company before providing personal information by reading reviews and checking with the Better Business Bureau. Upfront fees, an insecure website and no credit check are all red flags that you’ve encountered a scam.
Fewer loan options: Every time you apply for an auto loan, the lender will run a hard credit pull, which has the potential to lower your credit score. However, it doesn’t hurt your credit to apply to multiple lenders any more than it does to apply to one if you do so within 14 days.
How to get an instant auto loan
Getting a same-day auto loan should be easy as long as you have good credit (that is, a FICO Score of 660 or above), but you’ll still need to go through the application process.
You can usually apply for an instant auto loan online. When applying, the lender will ask for basic information, such as your name, date of birth, occupation and the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car you want to purchase.
You should also be prepared to provide documentation for the car loan — this could include a government-issued form of ID and proof of income, residence and insurance. And if you’re trading in a vehicle, your current loan information or a title will be required as well.
How to get an instant auto loan if you have bad credit
Getting an instant bad-credit auto loan is possible, depending on the lender and your credit profile, but you can expect to pay a higher auto loan rate.
Aside from the same basic information and documentation outlined above, you might consider supplying additional information to increase your approval odds. For instance, utility or cell phone bills in your name that show you have a history of making payments on time might help to demonstrate your creditworthiness.
You could also consider purchasing a less expensive vehicle or offer a larger down payment. The less money the finance company has to lend, the less risk you pose to them, increasing your chances of being approved for a same-day auto loan.
How to get a good deal on an instant auto loan
While the application process for getting an auto loan can vary from lender to lender, here are the steps you’ll need to take to get a good deal on your next auto loan.
Improve your credit
Your credit score can make or break your ability to get a good deal on an instant auto loan.
According to a 2023 LendingTree auto loan study, car buyers with fair credit paid nearly $5,500 more for a $32,012 auto loan than borrowers with good credit or higher. Improving your credit score by paying your bills on time and maintaining a low debt-to-income ratio can pay dividends when looking for the lowest instant auto loan APRs.
Determine the car’s value
Overpaying for your car can have a snowball effect.
Imagine that a car is valued at $30,000, but the dealership has it “on sale” for $35,000. LendingTree’s auto loan calculator shows that this $5,000 markup could raise your monthly auto loan payment by an eye-popping $120 (assuming a 48-month term at 7% interest) and cost you more than $700 in extra interest charges.
Paying over the sticker price could also lead you to extend your loan term to get a lower monthly payment. Although this could provide some budgetary breathing room, you’ll pay more interest over the life of the loan.
If you’re also trading in your vehicle, determining your car’s value is especially important to avoid leaving money on the table. Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds both offer free valuation tools to help you understand the market value of your car based on factors like make, model, mileage and condition.
If you need a car fast, it can be tempting to accept the first auto loan that comes your way — but this could be a huge mistake. Some lenders offer lower APRs than others, but you can’t know which lender is the most competitive until you compare multiple offers.
When comparing lenders, keep an eye out for fees and additional charges. Be sure to consider the total cost of borrowing, not just the monthly payment. Compare the offers you receive to dealership and manufacturer offers as well.
You can fill out a single form with LendingTree and receive up to five auto loan offers from lenders.
Negotiate the deal
Negotiating car prices — you either love it or you hate it. Negotiating with the dealer is usually necessary to get the best deal on your car and tangentially, your auto loan. The more expensive the car, the more you’ll need to borrow, which will lead to more interest and maybe a longer loan term.
Watch for tacked-on dealer fees and extras like unnecessary warranties and appearance packages. Some dealers may offer these at the end of the car-buying process when the buyer is tired and more likely to agree.
If you can’t get an instant auto loan, you may have other options, including:
In many cases, you can use a personal loan to buy a car. Personal loans can be harder to qualify for than auto loans, and you’ll likely encounter higher APRs. However, personal loans don’t require a down payment, which could make this option worthwhile for some. As with auto lenders, be sure to compare personal loan lenders before signing on the dotted line.
There are a few types of auto loans, including getting car financing at the dealership. With a dealership loan, the dealer acts as an intermediary between you (the buyer) and the finance company (the lender).
Some people prefer the convenience of dealership loans. But if the dealer does the shopping for you, you probably won’t get to examine every offer, and there’s no guarantee they’ll choose the one with the most favorable financing terms for you.